Posted on 11/7/2013 1:21 PM by Jay Krone

A number of commercial and institutional facility owners and management professionals are still trying to squeeze the last life out of legacy surveillance systems, unwilling to fully participate or unable to invest in the migration to Internet Protocol (IP)-based systems.  

With the affordability of IP-based video surveillance systems, however, organizations can use this tool to leverage business intelligence gathering, maintain the safety of facilities, and attract and keep tenants.

Driving the Shift to IP

As enterprises invest heavily in IT infrastructure to manage business processes, peripheral devices (IP cameras, phones) are connected to the network by standard Category-5 (Cat-5) cable. IP-based surveillance systems rely on Cat-5 wiring, standard Ethernet connections and TCP/IP communications protocols to communicate and disseminate information.

Leveraging the network to manage communications and information transfer within the organization, the overall cost of the surveillance system is reduced, allowing for flexibility in future system changes.

Enabled by IP systems’ adherence to recognized IT standards, organizations can deploy advanced features like redundancy, analytics, lossless playback, Power over Ethernet (PoE), anywhere over the network.

With higher video quality, using the existing LAN network, and sporting far greater capabilities than analog cameras, the benefits of IP security systems over their analog counterparts are numerous.

  1. Resolution: The coverage provided by a standard 2-megapixel IP camera (compared to 0.4-megapixel resolution from a legacy analog camera) can reduce on-site camera count by a factor of five. Many IP cameras range up to 10-megapixels, demonstrating how the advanced technology can cut down on the overall number of cameras required.
  2. Scalability: By utilizing standard networking components like switches, hubs, routers, it is possible to scale from a single camera up to thousands, running into the security system.
  3. Remote Access: Using a web-based interface, you can log in into a secure server remotely to view real-time footage on a PC, as well as mobile devices such as cell phones or tablets
  4. Cabling: Unlike CCTV cameras that run on coax cable, IP systems typically require a single low-cost Cat-5 network cable for each camera. On a decentralized IP surveillance network, you only need to run cable to the nearest switch, not all the way back to the recording device. The near commoditization of Cat-5 cable installation illustrates a significant cost benefit of IP over analog’s proprietary wiring.
  5. Secure storage: Store as many hours of images as you need—provided you have capacity. By eliminating the imprecise use of tapes and tape changing, maintenance costs drop and system performance results increase substantially.In cases where monitoring and storage are mission critical or require back up, you can enhance security by storing and viewing images off-site.

Storage

Many organizations that use analog systems continue to rely on elaborate and expensive systems of tape, hard drives, or traditional digital video recorders (DVRs) to store their video data. Though these storage options can seem economical, the data is unprotected and not secure. Also, rotating and backing up the data can be unreliable, and cause issues with data portability.

With the spread of digital recording technology, its many advantages have become apparent:  ease of use, advanced search capabilities, simultaneous record and playback, improved compression, and storage.  To manage and process a wide array of deployments and applications, there are a number of approaches to storing video surveillance data:

  • “Network Storage as a Surveillance Storage Target”: With simplified, scalable network storage for recorded or archived surveillance video files, the “Network Storage as a Surveillance Storage Target” method uses a network storage device as a simple storage target in conjunction with a wide variety of video management solutions (VMS) to deliver high capacity, reliable storage.
  • Integrated Video Management System: Organizations that need a low-cost video surveillance solution may deploy an Integrated Video Management System (IVMS), blending smart network storage with video management software and IP cameras.
  • Hosted Video Surveillance Solution: A Hosted Video Surveillance Solution (HVSS) taps the power of the cloud, using cloud storage for organizations concerned about managing and securing large amounts of video surveillance data. This hybrid approach reduces initial investment, using a scalable and flexible architecture with much smaller monthly operating expenses.

Bridging the Gap

One of the benefits of today’s IP migration strategies is the ability to fold an existing installation into a new solution. The latest NVRs enable users to capture both analog and digital video data, creating a blended environment. A stretch card is used to input and record up to 20 channels from analog video cameras, in addition to the digital video captured on IP cameras. The ultimate goal is to migrate to high definition IP video cameras across the installation, to benefit from their increased resolution. Digital video is streamed through the network, processed at the computer, and stored digitally.

IP-enabled systems provide so much in terms of security and convenience that it behooves commercial and institutional building owners and facility management professionals to begin the upgrade process of their premises now. Today’s tenants demand business intelligence capabilities enabled by innovative, "future-proof" IP video data access and storage solutions and will occupy facilities that provide them.

Jay Krone is managing director of LenovoEMC Ltd.